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Bill Bixby's 1st Wife Divorced Him Months after His Only Son Passed - His 2nd Wife Left Him at His Weakest

Oyin Balogun
Jun 05, 2022
03:30 A.M.
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Bill Bixby was always the man of the hour whenever he appeared on the big screens, thrilling fans with his quality acting. Sadly, his personal life was far less intriguing compared to his career.


The actor's first marriage crashed following the death of his only child, and he did not find happiness in his second marriage.

It might have been nearly three decades since Bill Bixby departed the earth, but memories of the man who played Hulk in "The Incredible Hulk" have stuck with lovers of his work owing to his fantastic acting.

A statue of The Incredible Halk stands near the red carpet at the premiere of Universal Pictures' "The Incredible Hulk" held at the Universal City Walk on June 8, 2008 in Universal City, California. | Source: Getty Images


Bill Bixby from "My Favorite Martian" had a straightforward career, leaping into fame following his determination and discipline.

The actor was also a very private celebrity who, unfortunately, did not enjoy the smoothness in his personal matters as he did with his career.

People close to him maintained that he was skilled at displaying two sides. Bixby was an introvert and never dispensed personal details, but he was also a sensational performer with great energy in work and social life.

Valerie Perrine and Bill Bixby appearing in the Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images TV movie 'The Couple Takes a Wife'. | Source: Getty Images


When describing the actor, a close friend maintained that his energy was unmatched, adding that it "would have been impossible for any woman to have been married" to the actor for an extended period, as his energy was demanding.

Somehow, his intense energy was perceived on set and in his relationships. Although the actor was a University dropout, he was self-taught and gave opinions on every matter, even if it involved him talking the entire time while on a date or in a gathering.


The "The Incredible Hulk" star liked it when his listeners were on the same wavelength as him. If he sensed otherwise, the actor would politely drift away.

To Bixby, talking meant he was releasing information to people, which was helpful. His co-stars noticed it, as well as his first wife, Brenda, who also accepted his behavior.


Bill Bixby as Matt Cassidy, in "GOODNIGHT, BEANTOWN" a CBS television sitcom. | Source: Getty Images


Bixby's first marriage was to Brenda, with whom he welcomed his only son, Christopher, on September 25, 1974.

Sadly, six years later, while Christopher was on a weekend ski trip in Mammoth ski resort, he died. Universal studio spokesman Ben Halpern later revealed that he had suffered a rare children's illness.

The boy had fallen ill unexpectedly over the weekend, and his mother rushed him to Mammoth Hospital that same day.

Bill Bixby, Brandon Cruz, and Miyoshi Umeki. Circa 1970. | Source: Getty Images


Immediately after he checked into the facility, surgeons diagnosed him with severe epiglottitis, and a few hours later, he went under the knife.

However, Christopher never fully recovered. Instead, he relapsed into a coma and cardiac arrest before closing his eyes for the last time a few hours after surgery.

Bixby was away in Los Angeles while his family went on the trip. The family decided to conduct a private funeral in LA following the tragedy. After the painful loss, the couple separated, and a year later, Brenda killed herself.

Bill Bixby (as Tom), Brandon Cruz (as Eddie) on the Disney General Entertainment Content. | Source: Getty Images


A narrative about how Bixby's intense anger and disappointment focused on Brenda after their divorce has been spun and could easily be the factor that contributed to her suicide.

However, through the accounts from co-workers and friends, like Brandon Cruz, it is easier to believe that Bixby never wished death on anyone. Instead, he was weighed down by the death of his son and ex-wife.

Bill Bixby as Matt Cassidy, in "GOODNIGHT, BEANTOWN" a CBS television sitcom. | Source: Getty Images


The actor was like a godfather and mentor who was confident in his ways to Cruz. Cruz maintained that he would have lived longer if it had not been for the deaths of his two beloved family members.

Cruz believed that the actor's legacy would carry on despite Bixby's untimely death. He ensured that by naming his child after his great friend.


Bill Bixby appearing in the Walt Disney Television. | Source: Getty Images


Despite the tragedies in his first marriage, the actor remained optimistic and was open to falling in love a second time. Eight years later (in 1989), he married the love of his life, Laura Michaels.

But in 1991, after the "Incredible Hulk" star was diagnosed with prostate cancer and was receiving treatment, Michaels walked out of the marriage.

This was his weakest point. No marriage, no kids, and the disease continued to spread throughout his body.

Actor Bill Bixby and Laura Michael attends Women in Film Festival Gala on October 28, 1990 at Director's Guild Theater in Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images


A few months later, the actor, still full of positivity and vibrancy, met an artist, Judith Kliban, whom he married after a year of their relationship. But he did not live long enough to enjoy his newfound love.

While directing an episode of "Blossom," Bixby collapsed and was later pronounced dead at 59, following complications from prostate cancer.


Actor Bill Bixby and Laura Michael at Television Academy Hall of Fame Awards Gala on September 23, 1991 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. | Source: Getty Images


Undoubtedly, Bixby was a seasoned actor who gained expertise without going to the most prestigious drama institute in the country. Contrary to what his parents wanted, he only studied theater at City College, San Francisco.

Bixby, a San Francisco native, served in the US Marine Corps Reserve during the Korean War and later worked as a lifeguard in Detroit, where he met an advertising executive who offered him a job.

First, he landed a minor role before his big break in the TV series — "The Favorite Martian," "The Courtship of Eddie's Father," and "The Incredible Hulk." He also worked on some films titled "Lonely Are the Brave" and "Irma La Douche."


Bill Bixby (as Tom) on the Disney General Entertainment Content "The Courtship of Eddie's Father". | Source: Getty Images

Indeed, the actor was so impressive in delivering his lines and roles that even his colleagues and other producers admired him. After he died in 1993, many talked about their time with him and his work ethic. According to Kenneth Johnson, the creator of Marvel's TV version of "The Incredible Hulk":


"My personal impression of Bix was that he was a very professional, friendly, accessible guy that never changed."

About being the best candidate for the role, Johnson added: "I remembered seeing Bill Bixby in a 1973 TV play called Steambath. He gave a dazzling performance, demonstrating every human emotion anyone could ever have. He was so wonderful. He's the only one I sent the script to."

Bill Bixby on "Love and the Legal Agreement."| Source: Getty Images


Television historian Ed Robertson claimed that the actor knew how to play every role to the letter. He maintained that Bixby acted like an authentic single dad in "The Courtship of Eddie's Father" and knew how to play the agonized superhero in "The Incredible Hulk."

Bixby left behind a rich legacy and big shoes to fill after his death, even though he never had another child with Kliban. The actor continues to be remembered for his riveting performance and gregarious nature.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org.


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